Pacers point guard George Hill missed Game 5 against the Knicks because of a concussion. There's no definite timetable for his return.
But, under the guidelines of the NBA's concussion protocol, it seems highly unlikely Hill returns in time for Game 6 on Saturday. He may not be back for Game 7 on Monday, either, if it is necessary.
Hill was diagnosed with a concussion on Thursday afternoon -- about three hours before tipoff of Game 5.
He will need to go through a lengthy series of tests before he returns to the floor.
Per the NBA's concussion policy, which was implemented at the beginning of the 2011-12 season, Hill first needs to show that he is symptom-free.
Doctors will determine this by comparing his "baseline" results -- or what Hill's brain shows when it is functioning normally -- with his current brain function.
The league has baseline results for all of its players.
Once it is determined that Hill is symptom-free, he must make it through increasing stages of exertion -- from working out on a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills -- while ensuring the symptoms don't return after each one.
With each step, the player must be symptom-free before he progresses to the next test.
Once he passes these tests, the team physician can clear him. But the neurologist hired to lead the NBA's concussion program is consulted in all cases.
When thinking about a timetable for Hill's return, it's important to remember that each injury and player is different, so it is impossible to say with any certainty when Hill will return.
But recent history suggests it takes several days to make it back to the floor.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist missed two games -- and a total of five days -- after he suffered a concussion in early February.
Pau Gasol missed five games -- and 10 days -- after suffering a concussion in January.
Hill's absence, of course, looms large in this series.
With Hill out in Game 5, Indiana shot just 36 percent from the floor and committed 19 turnovers. D.J. Augustin, who started in place of Hill, finished with two assists and two turnovers in 39 minutes.
Hill also left a void on defense.
Raymond Felton (12 points, four assists, three steals) seemed to have an easier time getting into the paint in Game 5. He also shot with a greater ease when guarded by Augustin, who is 2 inches shorter than Hill.
The Knicks also shot well from beyond the arc (7-for-18). In the two games prior, New York had shot 11-for-39 from 3-point land.
So Hill's length and speed on the perimeter were missed.
Hill is also a talented scorer. He was the most dangerous player on the floor in the Pacers' Game 4 win. He poured in 26 points, including 13 in the third quarter.
"He was really good in Game 4. I can’t worry about that," Mike Woodson said of Hill before tipoff of Game 5. "They’re still a good basketball team with or without George."
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